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China to Send 359-member Delegation for Harbin Winter Universiade

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Hosts China will send a 359-member delegation for the 24th Winter Universiade slated for February 18-28 in China's northeast Heilongjiang Province.

The delegation includes 193 students from 13 universities and colleges across the country, who will feature in 72 of the 82 events in 12 sports.

Among the star athletes are figure skaters Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, the silver medallists of the pairs at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics. The students at Harbin Sports College are aiming to reap their third straight victory at the Universiade since 2005.

"China had its best record of six gold medals at the Winter Universiade. And we won three more in the last edition, we are hoping for breakthrough in Harbin," said Zhang Yinggang, executive chef de mission of the Chinese delegation.

At the 21st Winter Universiade, China won a record total of 10 medals, including six golds, two silvers and two bronzes.

"Despite the absence of some veteran star athletes, we are still hoping for more gold medals on home turf, for a higher placing in the medal tally as well as a historic breakthrough in the winter sports in China," said Ren Hongguo, deputy chef de mission.

Short-track speedskating remains as one of the medal hopeful sports for China against the absence of Olympic champion Wang Meng, as China still sends its first-string team for the Universiade.

World champion Li Nina is a sure bet for women's moguls, world championship winner Liu Jiayu is fresh from winning the half pipe in the beginning of the year, and Yu Fengtong, Ren Hui and Yu Jingjun are eligible for competing for the gold medals in speed skating.

However, many Chinese teams are competing for international experiences, such as Alpine skiing, sky jumping, men's curling and biathlon, concerned Chinese officials said.

The 24th Winter Universiade will attract some 2,100 competitors from 42 countries and regions.

(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2009)